Verse 11. "God hath spoken once " - God has once addressed his people in giving the law on Mount Sinai. The Chaldee translates the whole passage thus: "God hath spoken one law, and twice have we heard this from the mouth of Moses the great scribe, that strength is before God: and it becomes thee, O God, to show mercy to the righteous; for thou renderest to man according to his works." Twice have I heard this - Except some of the ancient Versions, almost every version, translation, and commentary has missed the sense and meaning of this verse. I shall set down the text: yt[m wz µyt µyhla rbd tja achath dibber Elohim; shetayim zu shamati; of which the true version is this: Once hath God spoken; these two things have I heard.
Now what are the two things he had heard? 1. µyhlal zw yk ki oz lelohim, "That strength is the Lord's;" that is, He is the Origin of pourer.
2. dsj ynda ūlw ulecha Adonai, chased; "and to thee, Lord, is mercy;" that is, He is the Fountain of mercy. These, then, are the two grand truths that the law, yea, the whole revelation of God, declares through every page. He is the Almighty; he is the most merciful; and hence the inference: The powerful, just, and holy God, the most merciful and compassionate Lord, will by and by judge the world, and will render to man according to his works. How this beautiful meaning should have been unseen by almost every interpreter, is hard to say: these verses contain one of the most instructive truths in the Bible.
ANALYSIS OF THE SIXTY SECOND PSALM
The intent of this Psalms is to teach men to trust in God; and not to trust in wealth, or strength, nor in the power or promise of men.
"It may be divided into the five following parts: " - I. David's confidence in God, ver. 1, 2.
II. The mischievous but vain attempts of his enemies, ver. 3, 4.
III. He encourages himself and others in the same confidence, ver. 5-9.
IV. That no trust is to be put in men, nor riches, ver. 9, 10.
V. The grounds of our confidence in God, ver. 11, 12.
I. In the first verses David expresses, or rather labours to express, as appears by his frequent repetition of the same thing in divers words, his trust, hope, and confidence in God: - 1. "Truly, my soul waiteth upon God." I acquiesce in his will.
2. "From him comes my salvation." If I be safe in my greatest troubles, it is from him.
3. "He only is my rock, and my salvation; he is my defense so that I shall not greatly be moved." He is to me what a rock or tower or defense is to such as flee to them.
II. And upon this he infers that the mischievous attempts of his bitterest adversaries are but vain; with them he expostulates; them he checks, and over them he insults.
1. "How long will ye imagine mischief against a man?" i.e., me. He chides their obstinacy.
2. "Ye shall be slain all of you;" and their ruin he declares by a double similitude; "Ye shall be as a bowing wall;" whence when some stones begin to start out or fall, the rest follow: or as a tottering fence, that is easily thrown down.
Next, by the description of their manners, he intimates the cause of their ruin.
1. "They only consult to cast him down from his excellency;" their counsel is to destroy David.
2. "They delight in lies;" invent lies and tales to destroy him.
3. Flatterers and dissemblers are they: "They bless with their mouth but they curse inwardly;" no wonder then, if destined to the slaughter, "if they be as a broken wall," &c.
III. And lest his heart faint and fail through the multitude of temptations, he first encourages himself to be confident still. Secondly, persuades others to do so.
1. He encourages himself, making use of the words of the first and second verses for reasons: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him: he only is my rock, and my salvation; he is my defense, I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation, and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." 2. He exhorts others to do the like: "Trust in him, ye people," which he amplifies: - 1. By assignation of the time: "Trust in him at all times:" in prosperity, that he be not secure; in adversity, that he be not heartless.
2. And in our saddest occasions he shows what is to be done, that we bring our grievances and complaints before God, and with an honest heart open them: "Pour out your heart (that is, the griefs of your hearts) before him." 3. Adding this reason: "God is a refuge for us." IV. So are not other things; whether, 1. Men. 2. Wealth, especially unjustly got.
1. Not men; there is no credit or trust to be put in them of any degree.
1. "Surely men of low degree are vanity," 2. "And men of high degree are a lie." The low are not able; the high deceive our hopes.
"Put them into the balance; they are altogether lighter than vanity." Make trial of them, as of things in a scale, and you shall find them so vain and light that they carry no proportion to what is weighty, but ascend as an empty scale.
2. Nor wealth, nor riches; especially if unjustly heaped together: "Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them." V. In the close, he sets down the grounds of his confidence, taken upon God's word: "God hath spoken; twice have I heard the same;" or, "I have heard these two things: - " 1. "That power belongs to God;" and there fore he is to be trusted.
2. "That mercy belongs to God;" and therefore, also, you may have the utmost confidence in him.
The consequence of both is, "Thou renderest to every one according to his works," bonis vera, malis mala: rely upon him. Bad work cannot have good wages; good work cannot have bad wages. "What a man soweth, that shall he also reap."The righteous shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools." A man may deserve hell by a wicked life; but he cannot merit heaven by a good life because he cannot do good but through the grace of God, and the merit of the work belongs to the grace by which it was wrought. Reader, hear God's sentence on this subject: "The wages of sin is death." This is desert. "But the gift of God is eternal life." Here is no desert, for it is "by Jesus Christ our Lord." To him be glory for ever.